Sunday, April 23, 2006


Yes, this is the diary of a bored twenty-something. But I figured out pretty quickly after graduating/starting this blog that I had better come up with some ways to occupy my time. Therefore, I have picked up some new hobbies and pulled some new tricks out of my sleeve. I feel confident enough in my abilities to share some of them with you.

First of all, I have taken up the hobby of calligraphy. No, I'm not re-inscribing copies of the Old Testament or Constitution. Instead, I am capitalizing on the wedding season in which I annually find myself surrounded by and caught up in. I am using this hobby both as a money-making venture and as a way to give my friends that are getting married unique and meaningful gifts of handwritten wedding invitations/addresses. The money-making part has yet to happen, but judging by my friend's friends' reaction to her wedding invitation, it will come in due time. Below is a picture of my handiwork:

Yes, I wrote that by hand!

Secondly, I'm learning to cook. Yes, apron and all. I figured out around January that a lot of living at home would be very different, including that my mom wasn't going to fix dinner for me every night like when I was in high school. In hindsight, though, I am thankful for this because it forced me to get off my hiney and learn to make what I wanted... or at least try to. So, during the winter months, I made the same soup every week and ate it for lunch/dinner every night. It was a delicious chicken and velveeta cheese and rotel mixture with corn, etc. in it. Yum! Then I got better at mashed potatoes and poppyseed chicken. Then last week came the ultimate test: cooking without a recipe. Since I am very unconfident cooking WITH a recipe, I don't know what really made me want to up and get creative. But I did. Armed with just one chicken breast in the fridge, and the contents of the pantry, I tried to put together something to go on this chicken that would be edible, and better yet, repeatable. My instincts took me directly to a bottle of olive oil, so I poured a little of that on the chicken. Then, I remembered the box of spices that my aunt gave me from my grandmother's house. I selected a jar that Granny had labeled "Creamy Peppercorn" and gave it a sniff. It was a blend of pepper and some other spices that were begging to go on my chicken breast. So they did. I poured a hefty amount over both sides of the chicken, selected a temperature on the oven and put the pan inside. After some time spent making cheesy mashed potatoes, my chicken was ready. I have to tell you that I was pretty proud of my little fixings:

Chicken and cheesy mashed potatoes, yum!

Then last night, my sister came over for dinner. She is a very good cook, so the pressure was on for me to make something that she would approve of. After searching the internet for a lowfat, quick and easy chicken recipe, I came up with one that involved tin foil, chicken, salsa, sweet corn and kidney beans. Super easy! You spoon the salsa, beans and corn onto the chicken, make a little pouch out of the tin foil and bake for 20 minutes on 450. I was very nervous to open up the little tin foil pouches, but once again, the meal was completely edible and definitely repeatable. My sister even gave her stamp of approval!

I promise that's not throw-up, it's a really good dinner!

Those are my two main hobbies. One other thing that I have taught myself to do is cut my own pineapple. This isn't that hard, but how many of you can say you've done it? It's very gratifying, and doesn't taste tangy with preservatives like the kind you buy pre-cut. And of course, I've spent time doing lots and lots of reading, throwing and attending fabulous wedding showers, and of babysitting for some sweet kids... and some not so sweet kids.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Earlier in January when I was in Nashville visiting a friend, she and I tried to get ice cream at like midnight after leaving a bar. We drove to three different McDonald's (which encompassed about a five mile range) and were aghast to discover that at every McDonald's we visited, the ice cream machine was "down" (and at one particular restaurant, so was the grill. What does that leave one to order at a McDonald's? Ketchup?)

At the last stop on our trek we asked the drive-thru attendant why every McDonald's ice cream machine is "down" at the same time. We got some run around answer about it being "cleaned" that didn't really solve our problems. Fries in hand, we didn't spend too much more time thinking about it.

Until last Tuesday.

Once again, after leaving the bar, we have a hankering for fast food. We pull up to the first McDonald's on our stop. My friend places her order and knowing full well what the answer will be, I ask her to order me a small fudge sundae and a small Dr. Pepper.

"We don't have ice cream right now, ma'am! And, we're out of Dr. Pepper."

OUTRAGEOUS! I was expecting there to be no ice cream, but no Dr. Pepper? Even though my friend orders a happy meal, I refuse to give one cent of my money to this inferior fast food franchise. I am tempted to have my friend ask if they are serving breakfast, since apparently nothing they do at this McDonald's falls under the heading of "normal", but not wanting to get shot, we just leave.

Since McDonald's are a dime a dozen in any major city, we pass another one on our trip to my friend's house. Stupidly, we decide to press our luck.

This time, I ask my friend to say "Let me guess: the ice cream machine is broken?" Surprised at our witty banter, the drive-thru attendant playfully answers "It's down, baby! 10 p.m., baby!"

By this, I presume he means that 10 p.m. is when they stop serving the ice cream and "clean" the machine. Shouldn't they post that on the menu or something?

My friend, feeling courageous behind the anonymity of the drive-thru speaker, probes the issue. "Why? Why do the ice cream machines shut down at 10?"

Then, in what we weren't sure was a trick or a treat, the drive-thru attendant tells us to pull up to the window. My friend and I nervously proceed.

There we come face to face with two of Nashville's finest African-American male late-night drive-thru attendants. Seeing how desperately we needed ice cream (and that we didn't look half bad... after all, my friend is a model!) they inform us that they are "gonna hook us up." They ask us what else we want, so, leaping at the opportunity, my friend and I order fries and drinks on top of our fudge sundaes. We wait at the window for another minute, until one of the attendants tells us to pull forward and he'll bring it to our car.


Stupidly or hungrily or both, we advance the car to just beyond the drive-thru windows and park it. My friend locks the doors about 5 or 6 times, just for good measure.

As we are waiting, two more of Nashville's finest come wondering up to the McDonald's door, which is not only 2 feet from my friend's car, but is locked. They retreat to their car, which is backed into a parking space with the hood open. Great, they're stranded. My friend and I try not to look at them, but this becomes very hard to do when my friend tells me that one of them is approaching our car beside me.

Hearing some yelling, I pull out a piece of paper from my purse to begin writing my last will and testament. Then Mr. Stranded taps on the window. I turn to give him my best pissed-off-white-girl glare.

He holds up a five dollar bill and I hear him ask "Ya'll got change?" My friend and I both shake our heads no and look away. Death is avoided once he saunters back to his car.

A few minutes later, one of the drive-thru attendants comes unlocks the door to the restaurant and comes toward our car with two bags of food and two large beverages. My friend rolls down her window and takes the drinks.

"Thank you!" she says. "How much do we owe you?"

"Hold on, it's right here," says Mr. Drive-thru attendant as he roots around in one of the bags of food. "Here it is." He then hands my friend a piece of receipt paper onto which he has thoughtfully written his name and phone number.

"Thank you!" my friend offers again as she takes the two bags of food. "We appreciate it so much!" As we pull away, I examine the contents of our bags: two large fries, straws, napkins, ketchup and TWO FUDGE SUNDAES!

I take the number from my friend as a souvenir from such a memorable night. She is perfectly okay with this, because as Mr. Drive-thru attendant (aka Ronnie), my friend and I all know, she is never going to call him.

I tell this story both for the humor value, but to also continue begging the question: Are McDonald's employees lying when they say the ice cream machine is "down"? If the machine was truly "down", how could Ronnie just create two fudge sundaes out of thin air? Are McDonald's employees just too lazy to whip up a sundae or cone past the hours of 10 p.m.? Surely it doesn't take all night to "clean" the machine, if in fact it even DOES need "cleaning." Besides, wouldn't it be a better and more PROFITABLE idea to "clean" the ice cream machine during breakfast hours, when it's safe to assume that probably NO ONE wants ice cream?

For now, this remains an unsolved mystery. If I don't get a real job soon, I might just have to work at a McDonald's myself and get to the bottom of the issue.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Oh, all of my faithful blog readers: I am sorry I have been MIA for a few weeks. So much has happened (on my short term "to-do" list) and at the same time, NOTHING HAS HAPPENED (on my long term "to-do" list).

Bridging the gap between "so much" and "nothing" is the quick trip to Nashville I had to make, a (free) long weekend at the beach with my mother and her friend, two days of cleaning and packing several boxes of my late grandmother's stuff, joining the praise team at the church I've been attending, babysitting, having to finish writing a wedding invitation (NOT MINE) and lastly, taking what I would proudly classify as the best vacation of my life, probably to be topped only by my honeymoon, provided I ever meet someone who wants to take me on one.

The cruise ended up being a spur-of-the-minute decision. You know the phrase "you never know how much you want something until it's gone"? Well, the case applies here. JB and I had talked all semester about how "if" I didn't have a job by spring break (not that I didn't try), then we would go somewhere in honor of both of our Last Spring Break Ever. The tentative plan was to borrow her parents' convertible, grab some scarves and a road map of Florida and just take off, Thelma and Louise style (without the whole going over the cliff part). However, not wanting to spend all of our money on gas, and not wanting to get raped at a random Red Roof Inn in Armpit, FL, we decided to actually nail down some plans.

Destin was our backup. It could still be something different: just because everyone else from Auburn would be there didn't mean we had to hang out with them (no offense). We were just aiming for something greater, something more memorable, something HARDER--if you will--than a week in Destin for our Perfect/Last Spring Break.

Since JB is still in school, and I am not, I spent a lot of time in March researching flights and/or hotels in various cities across the US, including L.A., New York, St. Simons, Hilton Head, etc. One by one we ruled the cities out. Knowing that we could spend the week in a Dumpster and still have fun, I wasn't too brokenhearted about a week in Destin. I mean, the beach is the beach. Great company is great company. I really wasn't going to complain.

I had floated the idea of a cruise (pun intended) past JB early on in our quest for the Perfect Spring Break. I've never been on one, so she was open to the idea, but she did remind me she went on a cruise last spring break with her family, and is taking another one with them in August. In a similar vein, I've been to Destin with my family and I've been with my girlfriends and let me tell you: two totally different vacations. I knew that the same principle would apply if we opted to hit up a cruise, I just had to get her excited enough about it.

The weeks passed by and spring break drew closer and closer... well, HER spring break drew closer and closer. When you're unemployed and not in school, technically, everyday is a spring break... minus the R and R. As of Monday, when we were down to four days until she would be out for break, we still had no plan. I brought up the cruise idea again, adding that I had found a good deal online through a last-minute vacation site for a bunk-bed cabin aboard the Carnival Holiday, which conveniently leaves out of Mobile, but there were only a few rooms left. She said she'd think about it.

Looking back on it, I now see that she knew what I didn't. Trying to convince a Mobile native to go on the Holiday is like asking a Birmingham native to take you to Visionland. Unlike myself, she was aware that the cruise we'd be on would be the Holiday's maiden voyage after a six month FEMA charter. The Mobile Register said the ship was left in "deplorable" conditions. Unlike myself, she knew that the Holiday was the oldest and smallest in the Carnival fleet. That's why it leaves from Mobile. Therefore, in hindsight, I can totally sympathize with her reservations.

Well, to make a long story short less long, on Thursday, she finally agreed that it would be fun and something different and she didn't mind if the boat wasn't as nice as the boat she'd been on before (which was a Royal Caribbean cruise). Bottom line: it would be an adventure, which is what we were after all along. Excitedly, I gave her the number to call to book the room, and crossed my fingers that there'd still be cabins available.

She called back a few hours later to tell me she couldn't get anyone to answer. So I tried calling also, and was also unsuccessful. FINALLY my agent (this is starting to sound like a drug deal, no?) answered his phone and told me how busy they'd been all day. Turns out, ALSO calling the vacation people's office on Thursday were the hundreds of people watching the news reports about the Princess catching on fire at Sea. That's right, another cruise ship (not a Carnival one) had caught fire in the middle of the night and reports broke of it early Thursday morning. Therefore, everyone was calling to check on their cruise. Well, I tell him we have finally made up our minds and to book the room! Naturally, when he logs into the Carnival system, the type of room we want (the cheapest) is gone. There was only ONE cabin left on the ship and it cost about $80 more, so I call JB to okay that with her. We mull it over for approximately one minute, and decide that it didn't seem as great of a bargain anymore. I call the agent back to tell him thanks, but no thanks, but before I can even utter the words, he tells me that as he was logging into the booking system, the room got booked. No cruise.

Surprisingly sad, I call JB back to tell her that the cabin we didn't want was taken by someone who did want it. Destin, here we come.

Later that night, JB calls me to tell me that in the two or three hour window we thought we were going on a cruise, she'd gotten really excited about it. She decides to call Carnival to see if they have anything different to tell us. Of course they don't, but she puts us on the waiting list anyway, hoping that one of those hundreds of people calling the vacation offices around the country to check on their cruise will cancel it instead. At this point, we're between a rock and a hard place. How long do we wait on Carnival to call us? What if the only room that comes open is a penthouse suite with a balcony (aka EXPENSIVE)? All the good condos in Destin are getting booked right and left. We don't want to be cabinless AND condoless, but realizing nothing more can be done about it that night, I retire to bed.

When my phone starts blaring "Pieces of Me" (JB's ringtone, long story) at 8:30 a.m. the next morning, I knew it was for good reason. She used to be my roommate, she knows better than to call me at 8:30 in the morning just to shoot the breeze. My good suspicions were confirmed: there is a room open on the Holiday, for the exact same price we turned our noses up at the day before. Ironic. I give her the greenlight and get up to go find my passport. LOOK OUT, MEXICO!

So that's how the Greatest Vacation Ever (aka the Perfect Spring Break) came into fruition. We were super excited about our cruise, especially since we'd already lost it once. Since we'd been so bummed when we thought we couldn't go, we were on cloud nine when we found out we WERE going, and didn't come down off of it until we had to get off of the ship.

Turns out, booking the cruise was the smartest thing we ever did. Oh my gosh, did we have fun. I mean, we should run a travel company or something to show people new ways to enjoy a vacation. Wow. To try to capture the whole cruise in a blog entry would be futile. Pictures are worth 1000 words, so I've posted 162,000 words worth of pictures on my webshots album. Other than that, I can't try to possibly relate to you the fun, the giggles, pickup lines, desserts, etc., that I'll forever remember about this trip. I just wish your spring breaks (if you had one) were as fun.

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